Ms. Marvel Vol 2: Generation Why

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Rating: 5/5 Author: Willow Wilson Artist: Adrian Alphona Link: Ms. Marvel

This is the first time I find a comic sequel as good as the first one, even better maybe.

Nerdy interests, conservative parents and poly morphing super powers, Kamala Khan sure had an adventurous volume one. And now in this sequel, Ms. Marvel, our very own Jersey City superhero, finally come face to face with the Inventor!

Crocs and Skint!

Ms Marvel gets her shoes dirty as she descents into the sewers of Jersey City and faces the Inventor. What I thought was a chicken at first sight turned out to be a Bird…err…correction, not just any bird but a cockatiel. Inventor may not be the baddest of the super villains we have seen Marvel throw at us, but he sure knows how to create nuisance with his bionic alligators.

But that’s not all in store in the sewers. We have Wolverine!!!

*Such Athletic* *Very Claws* *Much Amaze*

Even though she doesn’t like punching animals, Ms. Marvel and Wolverine team up to fight the bionic alligators. The writing is amusing and the artwork, remarkable. Especially the scene where Ms Marvel and Wolverine are climbing out of the sewer and you can see the dinosaur bones in the background buried in the ground. It is this sort of attention to background details that I find astonishing.

Come here you big fluffy thing!

Just when I thought this issue can’t get any better, enters LockJaw! The cutest and most humongous thing you would have ever seen. Lockjaw like hugs and can teleport.

But things get serious soon enough, as serious as they can get in this funny series. Ms. Marvel must put an end to the bird’s menace, err…I mean Cockatiel’s menace, before he brain washes any more kids into doing his bidding.

The dynamic duo, Wilson and Alphona, have penned another great volume of Ms Marvel. So much is packed in these five issues that collects #6-11, there is humor, action, wolverine, lockjaw, cockatiel villain and new realizations for Ms. Marvel as to who she really is!

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The Restaurant Critic’s Wife: A review

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Author: Elizabeth LaBan

Rating: 5/5

Pages: 306

Link: The Restaurant Critic’s Wife

I received a digital copy of this book from Lake Union publishers through Net Galley for an honest review.

 

The restaurant critic’s wife was a sumptuous read flavored with comedy, suspense, drama, indecision and of course, good food.

The book was, in a way, much like a well prepared four course meal. Right from the look and feel of the cover art to the depths of emotional yet funny drama, each chapter felt like peeling a different layer, keeping the taste buds alive.

The restaurant critic’s wife is the tale of Lila Soto, who moves to Philadelphia along with her husband, Sam Soto. Sam is a Restaurant Critic and wants to give this new gig a chance. But Sam’s preoccupation with anonymity takes him to extremes and pushes Lila into a life of solitude. Lila craves for company, her work and a return to semblance of normalcy.

The novel focuses not just on the taxing relationship between a husband and his wife but also tests the waters of motherhood and career.

Elizabeth LaBan has put in a lot of work building the characters, be it Sam, Lila or people from their neighborhood. Every single character is penned to perfection. Lila, a devoted wife, who bends over backwards to support her husband’s dream job and tries her level best to secure his anonymity at the cost of her own social life and job. Sam, a food critic, who believes that everything, including his family’s comfort can be sacrificed for his job.

The book has a pleasing-to-the-palate humor. I admit to laughing out loud at scenes from review dinners. It is the kind of humor that one finds in Wodehouse novels; light and pleasant. Humor that brings a smile on your face throughout the read.

The author penned every scene to its full advantage never once leaving the grounds of reality. The trial and tribulations of a new mother, are shown beautifully. Be it fixing baby seats in car, to visiting aunts, the elements of humor and drama are never under or over done. However I do feel that the author missed one opportunity. Lila has been shown struggling with her kids, getting them dressed, getting them in car seats or getting them to eat properly. It would have been so much fun to see Lila struggling with baby baths too.

The writing is very refined. There are no abrupt breaks and words flow like melted cheese. The story is no doubt beautiful but the writing is what makes this novel a wonderful read.

I like it how the author portrayed the feelings of young child when she had to share the attention with a new born baby in the house. How Hazel (Lila’s daughter) kept saying “There is no baby.”

The story is fast paced. Every single chapter brought some new twist or trouble in the life of Lila. The novel made me laugh and at times, characters like Sam Soto got so high up on my nerves that I wished I could somehow reach inside the novel and punch the guy!

For all those with the love for humor, family, protagonist female character and food, dive right in!

 

 

Timeline by Michael Crichton: A review

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Rating: 4/5

Author: Michael Crichton.

Link: Timeline

Pages: 489

Never judge a book by its cover. Also, never judge one by the plot written at the back. Timeline by Michael Crichton is a time-hop action drama, traversing the present and the fourteenth century medieval past.

History gets opened up to the present as a professor is marooned in the fourteenth century medieval world. His students are swept off to the headquarters of ITC, the multinational organization that made the technology possible. The plan is to send them back in time and rescue the professor, but things go awry the moment they step into the fourteenth century. Wars, torture, death and rape are rampant and the group found itself fighting for survival.

Timeline does not feature your average run-of-the mill time travel. You are not actually travelling back in time, instead you are travelling across multiverse (amongst the multiple parallel universes).

The plot appeared quiet nonsensical at first. An organization develops the technology to time-hop and starts investing in research around historical sites. Their idea is to dig up these historical sites and reconstruct old castles and granaries. What I find ridiculous is that you are sitting on top of the most sensational scientific invention and you decide to use it to create medieval Disneyland and Universal Studios!

But I could not have been more wrong. The book absorbed me right from the beginning, so much so, that by the second half I could not put it down. The writing is remarkable and the subject matter, well researched. The science part of the time-hop is explained brilliantly, giving you the crux of the things without intimidating you into oblivion.

The beginning is a bit slow and the end is way too predictable. However the action starts soon, and once it begins it stays till the very end. Crichton had me sitting at the edge of my seat in the second half of the book. He made the fourteenth century medieval world not only exciting but nail-biting horrifying, making Timeline a true page turner.

My man jeeves by P.G Wodehouse: A review

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Author: P.G. Wodehouse

Pages: 114

Rating: 5/5

Link: My Man Jeeves

The hardest thing to do is to make people laugh. It gets harder when you have to do it on paper instead of television.

P.G Wodehouse is a man who knows that the key to a person’s heart is through his smile.

After much vacillation and in a desperate need to read humor, I picked P.G Wodehouse on a friend’s recommendation. There were so many to choose from but I thought it better to start from the beginning; the first in the series of countless hilarious novels, My Man Jeeves.

Jeeves is a personal gentleman to Bertie Wooster who or either of his friends, often find themselves at the cusp of problematic situations and who better to turn to in such situations than Jeeves.

The rummy thing about jeeves is that he light on his feet. You won’t see him coming, unless you watch him like a hawk. He would materialize like a genie whenever you need him and would fade into the surroundings afterwards.

True to its title, Jeeves is THE MAN, the man you go to for every problem/advice and a man you do not want to cross. Devilishly brainy, Jeeves brilliant ideas at times do not go as planned and bring contingencies that only he is privy too.

The novel is a collection of short stories, half feature Jeeves and Bertie Wooster, while others feature Reggie Pepper as an early Wooster. The stories even after being adapted and refashioned through writing and cinema are still garden-fresh crisp.

To be honest this is not a novel that would make you laugh out loud but it sure will make you happy. I, for one, had a smile plastered on my face through and through.

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith: A review

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Author: Robert Galbraith, J.K Rowling

Rating: 4/5

Pages: 489

Link: Career of Evil

The books in this series (Cormoran Strike series) are like an opiate drug, making one addictive, one book at a time. This addiction works so ingeniously that by the time it is done with you, you end up on the street in front of a book store, snorting the old books and waiting for the next one for that high you desperately crave.

The first book in the series, Cuckoo’s Calling, was quite boring and unnecessarily long. But Robert Galbraith (a.k.a J.K Rowling) gave the readers something to look for; the sensational chemistry between Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott. So, eventually one had to go for the second book in the series, Silkworm, which was interesting, fast paced, and continued the enchanting tale of Robin and Strike.

The third book in the series, titled Career of Evil is a thrilling and gripping tale of Robin and Strike standing at crossroads of their professional and personal feelings as Robin’s wedding draws near.

Even though the story is a suspense thriller, for me, it will always be a forbidden love story of a man struggling to keep himself in check from crossing that work boundary and of a woman torn between the admiration towards her boss and endearments towards her fiancé.

As for this novel, the plot is quite interesting. A mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott. She is horrified to discover a woman’s severed leg in the package. Strike can think of four people from his past who could be responsible for this. When the police, as usual, chase the wrong suspect, Strike takes the matter into his own hands as body parts keep on turning up.

As a tale of personal vendetta, this is, by far the most thrilling Cormoran Strike mystery. Continuing the tradition of previous novels, this one too peeks into Strike’s troubled past and goes one step beyond, by revealing a shocking secret from Robin’s past.

This would be the first novel in the series that I would call a page-turner. Even the sheer length of the novel did not discourage me at any point. Often, I found myself awake way past midnight, not able to stop reading further and further. The Matthew-Robin-Strike triangle continues with much ado. Rowling kept the readers hanging by the edge of their seat till the last page with an ending that would either shock you or bring a smile to your face.

I have to admit, that I am hooked to Cromoran Strike series not for the gruesome murders, suspense or investigative work. I am neck deep in the series for the thrill and joy that it brings while reading about the uncharted tribulations of robin and strike and for precisely this reason, I for one is eagerly waiting for the fourth book.

P.S. I wish Rowling would keep the next novel fewer than 400 pages.

The Maltese Falcon by Dasheill Hammett: A review

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Author: Dasheill Hammett

Rating: 5/5

Pages: 217

Link: The Maltese Falcon

 

 

“A gripping, riveting, criss-cross tale of changing loyalties and detective genius.”

Maltese Falcon is not just a crime novel; it is a work of art rightly crowned among the top ten crime novels by CWA (crime writer’s association). A vintage of sorts, the story even after being adapted number of times, is still fresh off the stove.

Sam Spade is a hardboiled detective. A tough chap with a long and bony jaw, a characteristic v shaped chin, thick brows and a stoic look in his eyes who sets precedent for detectives that would follow. In the words of Dasheill Hammett, “He looked rather pleasantly like a blond satan.”

Sam Spade and his partner, Miles Archer are hired by Miss Wonderley to track down her sister who eloped with a man named Floyd Thursby. They didn’t trust Miss Wonderley’s story but they trust her money. Things go awry when both Flyod Thursby and Sam’s partner are found murdered. Miss Wonderley turned out to be Brigid O’Shaughnessy and the thing that she’s really after, is a jewel encrusted bird.

The best part of the novel is the way Hammett unveils the plot, chapter by chapter, like a morning sun clearing the fog. The book is divided into chapters with intriguing titles where characters change loyalties with changing state of affairs. Every single character is a suspect with his/her own agenda and secrets.

The novel is very verbose, like there is a need to explain every action with dialogues and conversations. At times it reads like a movie script. But the dialogues and quotes are a piece of literary marvel, so much so that at times, I stopped myself and read the quotes again and again.

The reason why I find this novel a gem of a detective story can best be explained with a small example from the novel itself, “She said she has been asleep but she hadn’t. She had wrinkled up the bed but the wrinkles weren’t mashed down.” Only a writer with a firsthand experience in deduction can write something so ingeniously good.

The Maltese Falcon has all the qualities of a noir crime classic; a story that deals with disorder, disaffection and dissatisfaction, a protagonist with a queer sense of justice and the crime that is reflective of the times in which it is written.

Malice by Keigo Higashino: A review

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Author: Keigo Higashino

Translator: Alexander O. Smith

Rating: 3/5

Pages: 288

Link: Malice

 
The crux of the story is, “Some men just want to watch the word burn.”

What makes us do things reprehensible; murder, blackmail, bullying, physical harm, what evil drives people down this path? Keigo Higasino’s novel, translated in English by Alexander O smith, gives a name to that evil, Malice, plain old Malice.

Malice is unlike any murder mystery I have read before. The main focus of the novel is not on the murder but the motive as police detective Kyochiro Kaga tries to uncover the true motive behind the murder.

Acclaimed novelist Kunihiko Hidaka is found murdered in his house on the night before he was planning to leave Japan and relocate to Vancouver with his second wife. His body is found in his office; a locked room, within his locked house, by his wife and his best friend, both of whom have rock solid alibis. The plot seems quite interesting, but the novel is unlike other murder mysteries where the whole story is devoted to finding the murderer revealing the suspense only at the very end. Finding who commit the murder of Kunihiko Hidaka is only but a small part of the story.

The novel can be divided into three parts:

The murder: The beginning of the novel till the time the murder takes place. The first few pages are quite interesting and fast paced.

The murder to the murderer: Kaga investigates the murder. This part of the novel highlights diligent detective work. It happens right in the middle of the novel which makes one wonder, what the next half of the novel is going to be about. But everything you knew so far is about to be put into question.

The motive: The second half of the novel takes Kaga down the narrow lanes of history, as the motive of the present murder lies in the past.

The narration is very simple. The novel does not dance around any single piece of evidence. Everything is like a puzzle, you solve one and you move to the next, only to find everything staged and manipulated in the first place. This is the only novel in the Kaga series that has been translated in English, but still can be picked as a standalone novel. It gives a glimpse into the detective’s own history and touches social issues like bullying.

Overall, malice is a very easy, light and interesting read. A different take on the murder from the motive perspective makes it a good read.